Workers’ Compensation Risk Management Award for Excellence

National Underwriter Property & Casualty

During the 2022 WCI Educational Conference, three organizations and companies received the National Underwriter Property & Casualty Workers’ Compensation Risk Management Award for Excellence. WCI asked the winners to provide some insights on their outstanding loss control, safety, and return-to-work programs.

Lumen Technologies, Inc.

Lumen Technologies’ claims management philosophy is simple: Provide the best care to injured workers so they return to their families and their jobs as quickly and as fully as possible.

“We think if that is our focus, the claim will resolve efficiently and economically,” says Tara Acton, director, claims & counsel at Lumen Technologies. “We retain a lot of financial responsibility for our workers’ compensation claims.”

Lumen’s workers’ compensation program has adopted an advocacy-centric approach and added a full-time worker advocate to improve the employee experience. This team member’s sole job is to listen to employees, build relationships with them, be a resource for any issues they experience and solve problems affecting the employee’s journey through the workers’ compensation system.

“It’s about putting care for our people front and center. We found that with our new approach, our employees return to work faster and with far less litigation,” Acton says. “In 2021, only 1% of our new claims were litigated.”

The company, with Sedgwick, their TPA, created four custom predictive models to identify claims that need more attention because of specific areas of concern. They also created a dedicated claims team of examiners to handle the majority of their claims.

“We think having this model benefits our employees because the examiners know all the programs Lumen offers to assist employees in their recovery, and the examiners know Lumen jobs and lingo, so there is easy communication between our workers and the examiners,” Acton says. “Overall, we think the process moves more smoothly for everyone when you have expert examiners running the show rather than having an examiner who constantly has to switch between client service instructions.”

TC Transcontinental Packaging

This international packaging manufacturer is a diverse packaging organization with operations throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, the UK, Guatemala, Ecuador, and New Zealand. Over the last few years, the company has grown rapidly, both organically and through acquisition.

The company launched a formal, organization-wide risk-assessment process that required each TC Transcontinental Packaging site to review every production asset and all the tasks associated with them. This resulted in the implementation of a dynamic corrective action program.

As part of their safety management structure, they formed a team comprising six safety sector advisors who monitor their respective plants in terms of leading indicators, conduct training in site safety, and

help sites manage injuries. They actively engage employees in a number of safety-focused programs geared toward specific concerns.

Hand injuries are a major issue and they launched an employee-driven safety program that highlighted how workers operate safely and protect their hands using photos and information. More than 800 workers participated in the program.

The company also created an enhanced return-to-work program for employees injured on the job. The goals are for employees to receive proper care and to return to work as soon as safely possible.

“Despite our growth, our experience modifier rate [MOD Rate or EMR] has continued to trend positively year-over-year. Our current rate is 37% better than that of our industry competitors,” Kara deBorde, senior director risk management says of the metric that insurers use to calculate workers’ comp premiums.

Los Angeles Unified School District

The Los Angeles Unified School District has 73,000 employees including educators, food service workers, drivers, administrators and a host of other professionals. Being able to support injured workers and get them back to work as quickly as possible in this massive organization means learning as much as possible about each worker’s responsibilities and risks, and consistently adjusting policies based on employee feedback.

LAUSD is the nation’s second-largest school district, covering 710 square miles and educating 640,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade at more than 1,400 schools and centers. Such a large organization requires a wide range of occupations, similar to what might be found in a large city, says Dawn Watkins, director of integrated disability management at LAUSD.

One program LAUSD implemented to increase satisfaction and outcomes for injured workers is its nurse triage program. Injured workers have the option of speaking with a nurse to discuss their injuries and symptoms, and to get advice on when and where to seek medical treatment. The same nurse then follows up with the employee to see how they are doing and make sure they understand their treatment plan. The consultation services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The program has resulted in the avoidance of 89 claims due to self-care recommendations and $212,000 saved.

LAUSD developed a comprehensive resource guide that provided site-specific planning forms, reopening models, operational plans, and healthy practices and protocols to give employees guidance and easy access to information around physical distancing, materials sharing and school building protocols. In addition, it created a home office ergonomics guide for employees working from home to ensure a safe remote working environment through the proper use of chairs, monitors and keyboards. The district also assisted the community with vaccination clinics and food distribution.

Through its Safety Seals program, LAUSD encourages engagement with employees to help reduce injuries and celebrate each school’s commitment to safety. Certificates of recognition are earned based on the level of employee safety achieved, and related graphics can be posted on a school’s website and rating levels can be displayed on the school’s annual accountability card.

Quote from Patricia Harman, Editor-in-chief, PC360 Group

Each of these winners are leaders in their respective fields and their efforts highlight the creativity required for successful programs that put the care and well-being of their employees first. Simply put, they are the best of the best, and we are proud to honor and recognize their accomplishments.